Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dictator Ozawa Mustn't Entangle Govt. in His Personal Battle

Japan is endangered by Ozawa's recklessness. A political party unable to discuss issues freely can't be trusted. There's no future for an anti-democratic DPJ frozen with fear of its dictator.

"With all fears, the most frightening thing is a person who clings to panic." —Friedrich Schiller, German playwright (1759-1805)

By chance, I recently ran into an old friend and Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker. I asked him, "I've heard that no one feels they can speak up within the DPJ. Is that true?"

"Yes," he replied. "The climate inside the party is strangely oppressive."

The DPJ has become a major party with more than 300 seats in the lower house, but at the same time, it has become an anti-democratic monolith that won't allow free discussions. A reporter who covers the party told me, "No one can criticize party chief Ichiro Ozawa. Everyone seems abnormally scared of him. They're so scared of Ozawa, they can't say a thing."

Ozawa continues to ignore prosecutors' requests to question him in connection with the recent money scandal. The average citizen would never be able to get away with this behavior, but Ozawa keeps arrogantly disregarding the requests. The situation remains confused because Ozawa has taken such an arrogant and privileged stance.

When Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is asked about this, he replies that it's "something for party chief Ozawa to decide." Hatoyama is the head of the executive branch. The public prosecutor's office is part of that branch. Hatoyama is protecting Ozawa as the latter defies the prosecutorial requests. It's simply ridiculous. One can't help but conclude that Hatoyama doesn't have what it takes to be prime minister. The Japanese government is beginning to panic, creating a dangerous situation. Fears grow about the August 30, 2009 elections backfiring. The political change we voted for has been betrayed by Ozawa, Hatoyama and the rest of the DPJ. The Japanese people need once again to bring about political change in order to protect their living standards and their democracy. We need the courage to bring Ozawa despotism to its knees.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Message to All DPJ Representatives

Protect the Political Code of Ethics! Isn't it the height of irresponsibility to support party chief Ozawa's selfish decision to not respond to questions from the prosecutor's office? How can you show your face to voters after that?!

Every Diet member must protect the Political Code of Ethics passed on June 25, 1985. If lawmakers don't have the will to stand up for it, they should step down.

This is what the code says:

"We will devote ourselves to high ethical standards to be worthy of the voters' trust. We will eliminate any mixing of public and private matters that could invite distrust in politics. We will maintain integrity. We should work to avoid voter distrust by eliminating political corruption and improving political ethics."

Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa's decision not to respond to prosecutors' questioning collides with this code of ethics, as does his unwillingness to explain his actions to the public.

To the lawmakers of the DPJ, I say this: Not a single member of your party is willing to criticize Ozawa for his selfish stance and unwillingness to explain himself to the voters. It's simply too much. You should know how disappointed the voters are in the poor showing of your party. Look inside yourselves and find the courage to hold your party chief accountable!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pundits & Journalists Sidle up to Despotic Ozawa Regime

Lately, I've been hearing newspaper reporters, freelance journalists and political pundits who used to support the Liberal Democratic Party heap admiration on Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa. I knew that ever since the August 30 general elections, journalists and academics began an about-face in their political allegiances. but it's troubling how so many journalists sidle up to whomever has political power.

These reporters and writers need to be leaders. Or at least they need to try. At the bare minimum, they need to be independent from those in power. They need to be skeptical. But it's worrisome to see just how many of them are quick to flatter those in power.

Lately I've had two illuminating experiences.

The first was on August 30, 2009, when journalists who had supported the LDP and repeatedly criticized the DPJ turned on a dime and began writing, "Ichiro Ozawa is a political genius. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's leadership is wonderful." The way this message rang out so loudly and clearly was surprising.

The other was when I heard a certain well-known TV journalist say, "Anyone who criticizes the DPJ system under Ozawa and Hatoyama is really saying they wish the LDP would return." I heard something similar to this on another occasion, when a journalist who works like a member of the DPJ's advertising team said it on TV. Using this logic, the journalist sought to insulate the Ozawa regime.

Of course, this is nonsense. The LDP has less than one quarter of the seats in the lower house. There's no way for the LDP to return to power. Those of us telling the LDP to get a grip were simply saying that we wanted to see it show some backbone as Ichiro Ozawa, like a Heike fugitive hunter, seeks to thoroughly crush the party. That's all there is to it.

There is only a small group of people who are criticizing the DPJ, but probably none of them expect the LDP to rebound.

Those of us criticizing the rule of Ozawa and Hatoyama are asking for the DPJ to go through an internal transformation. We are looking for a revolution from within, where party members criticize the despotic politics of Ozawa and the irresponsible governing of Hatoyama. The most important issue in Japan's political world right now is the self-reform of the DPJ so that it breaks away from the current despotic system and returns to a true democratic path.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hatoyama to Let JAL File for Bankruptcy

In a break from the past, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is set to let Japan Airlines Co. file for bankruptcy as early as next week. Retired employees of the airline are likely to see pension cuts. A report from Bloomberg provides the details.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

How Will We Survive a Kaleidoscopic 2010?

New Year's greetings to all of you reading this blog post. Thank you for your continued support.

We need the strength and resolve to begin a new era. What we need at this moment is a strong enough spirit to overcome the immense difficulties ahead.

The Great Heisei Depression will worsen in 2010, and the economy will travel a rocky road. We have to find a way out of these hard times. Massive government power and giant pools of capital are behind these wars and the neoliberal approach. The world is unraveling into an everyone-for-themselves mentality. The mass confusion brings about a mass single-mindedness and more pain for all of us. But we don't have to give up.

International society will continue to destabilize. The unstable condition will bring pain to the people of many nations. The strength of national governments will weaken. They will find themselves less and less able to secure, stabilize and settle their people.

How should we live in the midst of this mess? Where can we turn? We should focus on our families, our homes, our businesses and the local economies. We must outgrow these painful times by solidifying ourselves at the grass roots. To do this, we must revive our Japanese spirit. I offer these five quotes from our predecessors to help us find out what the Japanese soul consists of and which way we need to go to get out of this mess:

1. Shoutoku Taishi. "Harmony is to be valued." Japanese society and the Japanese way of life is founded on a spirit of harmony and cooperation.

2. Saichou. "A person who brightens up one corner is a national treasure." Each of us needs to make an effort to light up the corners we live in. In other words, we need to embrace the spirit of mutual support.

3. The first of Emperor Meiji's five-part written oath: "Deliberative assemblies shall be widely established and all matters decided by open discussion." Let all members of the family, the business or the region participate to bring about wisdom and share that wisdom. Open discussions can save this society.

4. Yukichi Fukuzawa. "Heaven does not put one man above or below another." People are fundamentally equal. We must not create a prejudice or unequal society.

5. Roka Tokutomi. "The nation's ability resides in the provinces." The path to Japan's revival starts with revival of the provinces. To rebuild Japan, start with the provinces.

These five lessons from our predecessors can protect us and help us work together to overcome the hardships ahead and create a new Japan. If we keep these five principles in mind and work together, the Great Heisei Depression will not defeat us.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Japan Sinks under Ozawa's Despotism, Hatoyama's Irresponsibility

The threat of Japan sinking under the weight of Ichiro Ozawa's despotism and Yukio Hatoyama's irresponsibility has become frighteningly real. The 2010 budget is the worst mix of recession-extending tax hikes. It's a budget that will sink Japan.

Japan's economy is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis that could be called The Great Heisei Depression. The government's most important task is to get Japan out of this economic slump. It needs to halt the bankruptcies of small and midsize businesses, reduce unemployment and resurrect the long-suffering economies of the provinces. To be more explicit, we need an expansionist fiscal policy, not more fiscal reform. Even if we shelve the fiscal reforms for awhile, we need to work on getting the economy out of its current doldrums. To do this, cut taxes and increase public works.

But the Ozawa-despot/Hatoyama-not-my-problem Cabinet has decided that "at first, we should hold bond issuances to 44 trillion yen." In other words, the Hatoyama Cabinet is a fiscal reform cabinet. This puts Japan on a downward spiral, adding tax hikes to the Great Heisei Depression. Japan won't be able to withstand it.

What did the tax hikes of the Great Depression in the 1930s bring? Answer: economic collapse. It's as if Ozawa and Hatoyama are going to bring about the same situation.

The Ozawa/Hatoyama Cabinet threatens not only the economy, but also the sense of fairness in Japanese politics.

Ozawa's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is a party that limits the petition rights of the people. Its stance is clear: If you're not in agreement with party chief Ozawa, you won't get the right to petition.

This repudiates the sense of fairness and impartiality necessary for governance. It's as if the Ozawa/Hatoyama Cabinet is out to destroy the economy, stomp on political ethics and begin the reign of Ozawa the despot. This is not something we can ignore.

If we continue down the path we're on, then the August 30, 2009, election will be the one that not only ruined Japan's economy but also destroyed its democracy. It would be a tragedy if the results of that election ended in failure. To change routes, there needs to be a revolution within the DPJ and a return to democracy. But if the DPJ doesn't have enough strength to change itself, it must be defeated in the next election. To do this, those opposed to Ozawa's despotism and Hatoyama's unprincipled politics need to come together and form a united front. Actually, I've been hearing rumblings about the formation of an anti-Ozawa/Hatoyama movement. I will investigate this and write about it in the future.